Some kids are quirky; Different. In Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf, Sophie is one of those kids. Instead of letting the squash her parents bought at the farmer’s market be relegated to their dinner table, she decides instead that the squash is just the right size to love; to “bounce on her knee;” to give a face, name Bernice & become her constant companion. After a while, & many library trips, garden somersaults, baby bottles, hugs and kisses later, nature starts to take its course & Bernice the Squash becomes squishier, and Sophie starts to worry about her. Eventually, she asks the farmer at the market for advice and learns that health squash need “fresh air. Good clean dirt. A little love.” So Sophie tucks Bernice in the soil by their favorite tree & hopes that she’ll get better soon. But when the snow comes, Sophie is left to worry about Bernice, out there & if she’s too cold. Her parents buy her a new, alive, fish (Ace) to fill her BFF position, and although their friendship starts off pretty slowly, eventually Sophie spends the long winter filling Ace in on the numerous adventures she & Bernice had together. And when spring finally rolls around, some green leaves have sprouted over Bernice’s winter comfy spot, so Sophie, Ace, & Bernice sit together & have long lunches every day, Sophie filling her best friends in on the adventures they can’t be in on firsthand. Until two tiny squash, who ‘look just like (your) mom!” begin to grow, & Sophie names them Baxter & Bonnie, and now she has two new friends who are also just the right size to love on. Wilsdorf’s illustrations are charming & slightly quirky themselves, so they match perfectly with Sophie’s vibe. If you’re looking for a quick, fun fall read, Sophie’s Squash may be what you’re looking for. This gets 3.5 stars from me. (And I see that there’s a sequel, Sophie’s Squash Goes to School, but my library doesn’t have it yet, so I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.)
Pat Zietlow Miller is also the author of another fall-ish book I just finished, Sharing The Bread, An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, which is illustrated by Jill McElmurry. Here, we meet a whole family, hard at work on Thanksgiving Day, in a year closer to the 1800s than today, if the outfits, costumes, activities, & subtitle are anything to go by. Instead of offbeat, here, McElmurry’s illustrations are much more understated and simple, and yet no less a compliment to the tone of the story. And Zietlow Miller’s choices, which include a simple rhyme scheme (that hits right 8/10 times) that walks us through the tasks and roles of the young child’s family on this Thanksgiving. I would say that – for a good portion of the book – the ‘old-fashioned’ doesn’t keep it from being relatable: The thing about Thanksgiving meals, is that (even if we don’t all eat the same food anymore) we all know the basics of what that meal is made up of – Turkey, potatoes, cranberries, pies, etc. Which makes having everybody pitching in on their own specialties much easier, since there’s at least a common trope to play off of. The old-fashioned drawbacks come into play more when discussing things like cut out pilgrim hats or saying the family prayer, both of which would preclude my using this in a classroom, if I were still teaching, or with my own littles. Still: if those specific ideas fit your family’s Thanksgiving celebrations, then I think you’ll probably want to give Sharing the Bread a try, even though I’m giving it a 3.
And since there’s plenty of food on the cover,
I’m going to use Sharing the Bread for my libations square for CBR13Bingo.